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County wants state to pay for youth jail costs ADVERTISEMENT

County wants state to pay for youth jail costs

PENN YAN--The Yates County Public Safety Committee considered a resolution Tuesday, March 7 urging the state to fund probation departments and other agencies the full cost associated with raising the legal age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18.
The action is in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order number 150 in 2015 mandating that counties "develop a plan to move the 16 and 17 year olds from adult prisons to a facility with the necessary program supports and staff."
Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike said New York is one of only two states in the union that prosecutes all youth as adults when they turn 16. North Carolina is the other one.
In the past, the state has considered legislation to raise the legal age of criminal responsibility, but it failed to pass. Despite that, the governor's order mandated separating the youth from the adult offenders. His decision was based on accumulating research on brain development and the social sciences during the last 20 years that definitively shows 16 and 17 year olds are not developmentally adults. Brain development continues into the late teens and early 20s. Youth this age are especially influenced by their social surroundings and relationships.
Spike says, "You can argue it both ways, whether or not keeping 16 and 17 year olds is deterrent to crime. But if the state is going to change the rules, then it should cover the cost."
Currently in New York, when youth over 16 are detained in the jail, either pending adjudication or serving out a sentence, they are housed with the adult prisoners. Youth over seven years of age and under 16 are labeled "juvenile delinquents" and sent to family court for consideration of how best to rehabilitate them. Now, due to new regulations, the 16 and 17 year olds must also be sent to a juvenile facility.
Spike says if the change occurs, the youth who cannot be kept locally must be driven to a state youth facility. These are far away and often have very few vacancies. The new way of operating will incur extra transportation costs and overtime. He says currently the state is saying the county must absorb these increased costs unless they can show they are under the 2 percent tax cap and can demonstrate funding related services would be a "fiscal hardship."
According to the website, the statistics on the recidivism of youth this age housed with adults show an increase in future criminal behavior compared to youth in juvenile facilities. The risk of suicide, abuse, depression, and other mental health problems is high among youth detained in adult facilities.

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